Swirl Ware vs. Marbling Techniques

Catawba Valley Pottery, Pitcher by Steve Abee

At first glance, one could easily mistake a piece of swirl ware pottery as using a technique known as marbling.  However, a closer look reveals two totally different processes. Marbling involves mixing a colorant with a single type of clay body, and usually creates a random pattern. Swirl ware involves combining two or more contrasting colored clay bodies together in a less random, more controlled way.

Early Catawba Valley potters including Floyd Propst and Enoch Reinhardt (Image 2) were among the first to experiment with creating swirl ware pottery in the early 20th century as a novelty item for visiting tourists. This tradition continues today by Catawba Valley contemporary potters like Kim Ellington, Charles Lisk (Image 3) and Steve Abee (Image 1), who have also added colorants to clay bodies to create multicolored swirl pottery.  Enoch Reinhardt swirl ware teapot, Catawba Valley Potter

Understanding characteristics such as plasticity, shrinkage, and moisture absorption of each clay body helps to determine how compatible two or more clay bodies are. For example, using clay bodies that are compatible in terms of mineral content and particle size will ensure the shrinkage rate for both clay bodies is uniform enough to prevent cracking.

Swirl ware pottery vase by Charles Lisk, Catawba Valley Potter

Catawba Valley potters often use a clear glaze which lets the natural contrast between the clay bodies serve as the color.

For many artisans, one of the best things about making pottery is the experimentation. It brings out the artist and scientist in us all. Analysis and synthesis together creates an exciting dynamic synergy of exploration, discovery, and creativity.  On the other hand, if you prefer to save time and money or simply are not into experiments, the CVCC Potters’ Workshop is offering a swirl ware workshop with local Catawba Valley Potter, Steve Abee on Saturday, November 9, 2013 from 10 am to 4 pm. The cost is $75. Lunch is included.

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CVCC Potters’ Workshop Offers Fall Classes

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Ideas are shared, creativity flows, and a low faculty-to-student ratio, all contribute to the unique learning environment found at the Catawba Valley Community College Potters’ Workshop. From using local NC clay to advanced firing and kiln technology, each class is a dynamic balance of traditional and contemporary methodology. The Potters’ Workshop has a class for every skill and interest level, from those who have never touched a ball of clay to the experienced artisan.

Registration is currently open for the next 9-week session of pottery classes which begin October 21. The program’s core classes continue to be popular, and enable students to focus on developing skills using either the potter’s wheel or handbuilding methods. Every class is taught in a workshop format where students will learn to create basic to complex forms, apply glazes, and the proper procedures for loading and firing a kiln.

In addition, the Workshop has added two new exciting classes. Handbuilding Pottery for the Table taught by Shelly Johnston, gives students the opportunity to focus on a specific flatware project, including: dinnerware set, tea set, salad bowl set or a collection of serving trays.

Zen and Catawba Valley Pottery taught by Preston Tolbert, teaches students how to construct warm, graceful pottery forms by applying the same principles and methods used in Catawba Valley Pottery and inspired by Zen philosophy.

Each course meets one night per week from 6-9 pm. Each session is nine weeks long and cost $166.25 which also includes the cost of materials. For more information about the Potters’ Workshop contact Wendy Gem at 828-327-7000 x-4032 or wgem@cvcc.edu; to view the entire schedule or register online, visit www.cvcc.edu/Potters_Workshop. To register by telephone, contact Cheri Toney at 828-327-7037 or email at ctoney@cvcc.edu.

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Upcoming at the Workshop

Pumpkin Carving with Kim Ellington at the CVCC Potters' WorkshopPumpkin Carving, a one day hands-on workshop will be held on Sat., Oct. 13, from 1  to 4 p.m.

Kim Ellington will be giving this fun and interactive workshop. Guests will receive a previously made pumpkin, turned by Ellington, to carve. Continue reading

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Happenings at the Workshop

Pottery IV Class at the CVCC Potters' Workshop

Pottery IV Class at the CVCC Potters’ Workshop

The first fall session of classes started the week of August 13, and includes two new classes, Pottery IV and Decorative Pottery.

Pottery IV is taught by Kim Ellington and allows students with prior wheel experience to work at their own pace on individual projects.

With this class, students will develop the ability to make pottery with consistent size focusing on personal design. Continue reading

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The Workshop in the Community

The Potters’ Workshop was at the Hickory Farmer’s Market on Saturday, July 28. Instructor Evelyn Arnold demonstrated wheel throwing and spoke to guests about the Workshop’s program and philosophy. This is the second year the Farmer’s Market has been kind enough to provide a space to the Workshop. Continue reading

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Of Interest

The Potters Workshop will be at the Hickory Farmers’ Market, Saturday, July 28 giving wheel demonstrations and talking to guests about Workshop classes and the importance of handcrafts to the Catawba Valley. Stop by the CVCC Potters’ Workshop booth to say “hello”. Continue reading

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Happenings at the Workshop

Raku Pieces

Raku Pieces

The summer session of wheel classes have started at the Workshop.

Returning in August is Raku pottery. This class covers Raku- an ancient Japanese method of glazing and firing hand built and wheel thrown pottery.

This course will include the creation of beautiful and unique clay pieces, as well as glazing and firing pieces in a Raku kiln. The experience is spontaneous and dramatic as the pieces emerge from the fire. Continue reading

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The Workshop in the Community

The Workshop has been host to a variety of activities this spring!

Po Wen Liu Demo

Po-Wen Liu Demo

In April, the Workshop presented a one day workshop, “Asian Style Wheel Throwing,” instructed by guest ceramic artist Po-Wen Liu. Liu demonstrated Asian style techniques directly on the potter’s wheel to show participants how to create bowls, large platters, vases and jars; as well as sharing his altering and decorating techniques. Guests enjoyed this workshop commenting they learned so much and appreciated the opportunity to participate. Continue reading

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CVCC Potters’ Workshop begins new session

Raku Kiln FiringClasses have started for the new session and include a newly added Pottery III class, as well as the return of the Hand Building class with Tammy Leigh Brooks.

The next session is scheduled to start May 29, and will include the return of the Raku class with Pat Flachbart. Registration information will soon be posted.

Please ask to be put on a waiting list if any class is full; by doing so, the Workshop can better understand the demand of classes.

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CVCC Potters’ Workshop offers “Raku Pottery” in July

CVCC Potters’ Workshop will offer “Raku Pottery” on Mon., July 30 to Sept. 24, from 6 – 9 p.m. and Mon. & Tues., July 30 to Aug. 28, 9 a.m. – noon at the Potters’ Workshop.

Experience the excitement of Raku, an ancient Japanese method of glazing and firing of either hand built or wheel thrown pottery.

This course will include the creation of unique clay pieces, as well as glazing and firing pieces in a specially built Raku kiln. The experience is spontaneous and dramatic as the pieces emerge from the fire.

This class is for the beginner as well as the experienced potter. Firings are held the last day of class, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Click here to register for the class.

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